This memo outlines the top 3 such markets outside of the U.S., and discusses the cultural, political, economic, legal and technology issues that must be addressed in order to fully realize the sales potential offered the identified countries. Differences between a successful sales approach in these target countries versus such approaches in the U.S. will also be examined.
Outside of the U.S., there are several regions with populations that are aging rapidly. Birth rates have fallen off substantially throughout much of the industrialized world in recent decades, resulting in graying societies that are becoming deeply concerned about the economic impact of ever increasing ranks of the retired supported by shrinking numbers of working age people. Arguably, these trends have been most pronounced in Europe and the Far East. Several countries, including Britain, Germany, Japan, China and Thailand have been cited by demographic experts as being on the cusp of a crisis brought on by the unprecedented shift of population toward the elderly. That "crisis" translates into business opportunity for PM Company through enhanced sales potential. The three countries that represent the greatest of this potential are Japan, China, and the European Union in general - Britain and Germany in particular. An aggressive move by PM into these markets today will reap substantial financial benefits tomorrow.
Japan is, without a doubt, the highest priority overseas market for PM Company's product line. Recently published government data showed that "the share of elderly people aged 65 or older in Japan's total population became the highest in the world while the rate of youth aged 14 or younger fell to the lowest, an indication of the relatively rapid aging of its population" ("Elderly Population Share," 2006). Japan's elderly population is nearly 27 million, about 21% of that country's total population. Japan reported in June of 2006 that they "surpassed Italy as the world's most elderly nation" (Coleman, 2006). The Kiplinger Letter maintains that "An aging Japanese population will demand more medical goods than the domestic industry can produce" ("Companies that export," 2006).
These factors suggest Japan is an enormous untapped market for walkers, wheelchairs and related equipment. Combine the shear volume of potential customers with the strength and vitality of the Japanese economy, its democratic political system, and its Post World War II tradition of close business ties with U.S. companies, and the stage is set for a phenomenal boost in PM Company's sales driven by the Japanese market.
As promising as this market is, there certainly are some cultural obstacles that will need to be overcome when trying to break into this market. Japan, like many other Far Eastern countries, has built a society on the notion of suppressing individualism in favor of the good of the group. That culture has carried over to the business world, where the Japanese will tend to be governed less by individual aspiration than by promoting the success of their companies and organizations. As the company seeks to expand its sales force into Japan, it needs to be aware of the potential distinction between how U.S. salespeople and those in Japan might best be motivated.
For purposes of selling mobility products to elderly and disabled people in Japan, it is also helpful to be aware of the